It was announced by Pope Francis in 2020 that the theme for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023 would be “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”
“It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church in the third millennium.” – Pope Francis.
It is a two-year process of encountering, listening, and the discerning of Spirits. The purpose of the Synod of Bishops is to come together and help the Pope discuss issues that are consequential for the whole Catholic Church, so in 2023 their task will be to review how to move forward as a more Synodal Church.
Becoming a more synodal Church allows the Church to change to become truly what it is. Pope Francis is certain that this change involves a conversion of mindset and culture, which will therefore allow a result for a structural change too.
“Let us not soundproof our hearts; let us not remain barricaded in our certainties. Let us listen to one another… When we follow Jesus in the listening with the heart… People feel they are being heard, not judged; they feel free to recount their own experiences and their spirtiual journey.” – Pope Francis.
There are four phases of Preparation for an Ordinary General Assembly, which started in 2021 for the XVI Assembly, currently taking place.
- OPENING OF THE SYNOD
- 10th October 2021 at the Vatican
- 17th October 2021 in ever Diocese
- DIOCESAN CONSULTATION
- From October 2021 to April 2022
- Lineamenta, questionnaire, and handbook of guidelines
- CONTINENTAL PHASE
- From September 2022 to March 2023
- Preparation of first working document
- UNIVERSAL CHURCH
- October 2023
- Second working document submitted to the Synod of Bishops
This month, the Continental Phase begins and will continue through to March 2023. The purpose of this phase is to “promote dialogue at the continental level about the text of the first Instrumentum laboris and deepen discernment within the specific cultural context of each continent.”
Catholics in Australia will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the following:
- Co-responsibility in mission
- Dialogue in Church and in society
- Forming ourselves in Synodality